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On World Mental Health Day, the international community will commit to make equality for mental health a reality
This year I’m delighted to be marking World Mental Health Day in a big way:
I’ll be attending the first ever Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit and speaking alongside leaders, experts and people with lived experience from all over the world. This event will take place in London on 9 and 10 October, and I look forward to meeting health ministers, clinicians and patients to discuss and promote mental health. We have lots to learn from each other to improve care around the world for those who face mental health problems and the stigma and discrimination that almost invariably entail.
In England we know that, every year, one in four people will suffer with mental ill-health. Across the globe, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 300 million people suffer from depression, and many of these people also suffer from symptoms of anxiety. Depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion each year in lost productivity. And for many people around the world, the burden of stigma, shame and discrimination that comes with mental ill-health multiplies the problem they already face.
We have a lot of work to do to reach equality for mental health and I am very pleased to see nations coming together this week to discuss these pressing issues at the Global Summit. We’ve got some fantastic speakers lined up – among them our Secretary of State, Matt Hancock, who will be talking about his plans for the future of mental health, in the context of the preparation of the NHS’ long-term plan. This plan needs to contain really ambitious proposals to keep transforming mental health services in England over the next ten years, and we’ll be learning from the experiences of international colleagues and patients at the event to feed into this. Minsters and leaders from the OECD, the WHO and nearly 30 countries will also be with us and I look forward to hearing their different perspectives.
The Global Summit has two big aims: firstly to invite ministers and state representatives to agree an international declaration on “Equality for mental health in the 21st century” – the international version of our ‘parity of esteem for mental health with physical health’; and secondly, to gather recommendations from experts, including experts by experience, on how to make this a reality for all countries, worldwide. I will be presenting these recommendations on day two of the conference to kick-start global action for better mental health care; and then taking the declaration and the recommendations down to present them at the annual WHO mental health conference the very next day.
NHS England will play a key role at the event and in the preparation of the Summit recommendations. Our National Director for Mental Health, Claire Murdoch, will chair a work stream on mental health services, in partnership with the WHO. She will co-lead discussions with Charlene Sunkel, expert by experience and mental health champion from South Africa, to encourage experts to share their learnings with case studies from all over the world.
The NHS will also be represented at the summit exhibition, with two innovative stands: one focusing on digital mental health, and the other on children and young people’s mental health. As we’re planning for the next decade of our mental health programme, our attention is on the young generation – and on how we can better reach out to them and care for them, including through new and evolving technologies.
I’m really looking forward to attending the Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit and sharing its findings with you, both through live streaming and social media – I’ll be tweeting on @timkendall1. Please do join the online conversation with #GlobalMHSummit and @NHSEnglandEvents.